Estuary Marshes

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The Estuary Marshes leg of the Christchurch 360 Trail runs between Scarborough Park and the Pages Rd bridge over the Avon River.

The route includes the Christchurch Coastal Pathway, and skirts the estuary for the Heathcote and Avon rivers. This estuary is home to abundant variety of birds and other wildlife.

The leg is 19.8km long and will take 7 to 8 hours for a walker to complete. A convenient place to break the leg in half is Charlesworth Reserve.

Description of Route

You can find a Google Map of the route here.

The Estuary Marshes leg starts at the part at the southern end of The Esplanade in Sumner. The initial part of the trail uses the Christchurch Coastal Pathway. Head along the beach toward the city. At the mouth of the rivers’ estuary,

Kite surfer

Kite surfer on the estuary. Photo credit: Jeremy Taylor

follow Main Rd into Moncks Bay. Turn down Beachville Road to get a closer look at the estuary. Beachville Rd will rejoin Main Rd at the eastern end of the McCormacks Bay causeway. Continue along the causeway using the Coastal Pathway, then around the bend to the Ferrymead Bridge. The Coastal Pathway ends at the Ferrymead Bridge.

Cross the road at the bridge, using the signalised pedestrian crossing. Continue west along Ferry Rd and turn left into Settlers Cresent. Just before the bend to the right, there is a lane into a park. Use this to join the Ferrymead Towpath track, and follow it upstream.  This track turns to run behind the businesses in Settlers Crescent and Ferry Road. The track rejoins Ferry Rd opposite Charlesworth St; cross the road when it’s safe, and make your way along Charlesworth St. Enter Charlesworth Reserve on your right. Follow the path eastwards to get closer to the salt marsh, take the left branch when the track forks. The track turns north and skirts the salt marsh, finally getting up to a bridge over the Linwood Drain.

Don’t cross the bridge over the Linwood Drain, instead follow the track along the south side of the canal. This leads you to the Dyers Rd/Linwood Ave intersection. Use the signalised pedestrian crossing to cross Dyers Rd, then Linwood Avenue. Continue west on Linwood Avenue, turning into Kidbrooke Street, then cross Bayswater Rd when it is safe, and enter Bayswater Reserve. Cross Bayswater Reserve and exit from the northern corner onto Seascape Gardens.

Turn right into St Johns Street, and continue north until you get to the end. Turn left into Maces Rd. Continue along Maces Rd until you cross Bromley Rd, then enter the Bromley Old School Reserve, crossing it and exiting onto Raymond Rd. Go north along Raymond Rd, entering the Ruru Lawn Cemetery. Take the right branch when the road forks, and continue north through the cemetery until to reach Ruru Rd. Turn left, then cross Ruru Rd and enter Memorial Park Cemetery. Take the third lane on the right, and exit the cemetery onto Cypress St, turning right towards Rudds Rd, where you turn right again.

Rudds Rd turns left and becomes Kearneys Rd, and just after the corner, turn right into the playing fields, skirting around the southern end of the park. At the south-eastern corner of the park, enter the forest, and the track takes a generally northerly course towards Pages Rd. Near Pages Rd, the track turns to the right to parallel Pages Rd while remaining in the forest, until Softball Lane is reached.

The track then skirts around the Pages Rd side of Cowles Stadium, before crossing in front of Nga Hau E Wha Marae. The track then turns onto Pages Rd, turning north-west until Shortland St. Turn right into Shortland St, and continue down until Rowses Rd. Cross Shortland St when safe, and follow Rowses Rd all the way until it turns sharply left and becomes Rowan Ave. At this sharp bend, enter the park and follow the path toward Anzac Drive.

When you reach Anzac Drive, look for the pedestrian refuge just north of where the track emerges, and use this to cross Anzac Dr safely. Having crossed the road, turn south, past Wetlands Grove, and look for the track that heads east alongside the Bexley Wetland. This track winds alongside the wetlands, then follows the Avon River upstream. Follow the river upstream until you get to Pages Rd. Cross Pages Rd at the bridge with care, and you will find the sign marking the end of this leg and the start of the Dunes Wetlands leg.

Access Points

You need not tackle the entire leg in one go, if you do not have the time or the strength. Most of the Estuary Marshes leg runs closely to the road network, and there are many places where you will be able to park up and start the walk at intermediate points. Here are a number of natural segments for the walk, with approximate walking times between these points.

Start: At the southern end of The Esplanade. There is car parking along The Esplanade.

3.2km 1 hour 20 mins

Barnett Park: There is a carpark inside Barnett Park, off Main Rd.

1.6km 45 mins

Redcliffs Park: Car parking can be found along Beachville Rd, opposite Redcliffs Park.

2.5km 1 hour 10 mins

Settlers Cresent:

2.7km 1 hour 15 mins

Charlesworth Reserve: There is a small area cars can pull off Linwood Avenue near the foot bridge over the canal. Otherwise, there is a carpark on the south-eastern corner of Charlesworth Reserve, off Charlesworth St.

5km 2 hours

Cowles Stadium: There is a car park at Cowles Stadium.

5km 2 hours

End: Bridge over Avon at Pages Rd. Park in Wairoa St alongside the Avon River.


Traffic: The Christchurch 360 Trail passes alongside some roads that experience heavy traffic flows at times. There are places where it is necessary to cross roads. Please use the crossing facilities where provided, and exercise extreme caution at all times around traffic.

Cycles: The Christchurch City Council will not allow us to promote the Christchurch 360 as a cycling route, because a route promoted as a cycling route might be perceived by some users as having an implied suitability for cycling that could reduce their level of safety awareness, and as the Christchurch 360 Trail does not follow streets that meet standards required for cycleways, cyclists may be exposed to unacceptable risks. Because of that, we are not permitted to mark or recommend a cycle route option for the Christchurch 360. If you choose of your own initiative to follow the Christchurch 360 on your bike, please ride safely and responsibly, and follow the road rules.

Things to see

Shag Rock and the Peacocks Gallop rockfall protection shipping containers  

McCormacks Bay & Estuary

Heathcote Towpath

Nga Hau E Wha Marae

Nga Hau E Wha Marae. Photo credit: Jeremy Taylor

Nga Hau E Wha Marae

Bexley Red Zone & Wetland

Flora & Fauna



Grey duck/Parera and Mallard Anas superciliosa (grey) and Anas platyrhynchos (mallard) Grey ducks and mallards are found on many New Zealand lakes and rivers. Both male and female grey ducks are similar in appearance to mallard females. Because the two species interbreed, the plumage of male mallards varies considerably. Mallards are larger and more dominant, and as a result grey ducks are critically endangered.

New Zealand scaup Aythya novaeseelandiae:


NZ Scaup. Photo credit: Jeremy Taylor

This small diving duck can be found in waterways around Christchurch. The male has bright yellow eyes and both male and female have dark brown plumage.

Black swan Cygnus atratus: The black swan is an Australian swan that was introduced to New Zealand in the 1860s. It is thought that black swans have also flown from Australia and that most of the current population are descended from self-introduced birds rather than arising from the birds acclimatised in the 1860s. About 1000 black swans overwinter at the Te Huingi Manu Wildlife Refuge in the Bromley Oxidation Ponds.

Black-backed Gull/Karoro Larus dominicanus dominicanus: The black-backed gull is New Zealand’s largest gull. It has a white body with black upperparts, yellow legs and a yellow bill. Chicks peck at the red spot at the tip of the parent’s bill to stimulate regurgitation. Fledged offspring are mottled brown. Black-backed gulls scavenge from human populations and are more aggressive than the red-billed gulls they are often seen with. White-faced Heron, Egretta novaehollandiae.

Royal Spoonbills


White heron/Kotuku (native) Ardea alba modesta:


Kotuku. Photo credit: Jeremy Taylor

The kotuku, or white heron, is treasured by Maori due to its rarity. It breeds at Okarito Lagoon on the West Coast, but is occasionally seen on the Avon-Heathcote estuary or in the Linwood Avenue canal. With a nationwide population of only 100-200, the kotuku is endangered in New Zealand, although the species is common elsewhere. The kotuku’s bright white plumage and black bill and legs distinguish it from other birds in the waterways. Kotuku feed in shallow waters on small vertebrates and invertebrates. The kotuku features on New Zealand’s $2 coin.

New Zealand shoveler Anas rhynchotis variegata: This duck is similar in size and shape to the grey duck and mallard, but has a longer bill with a rounder tip. Like the grey duck and mallard, shovelers are dabbling ducks, feeding from the surface rather than diving. The New Zealand population is about 30,000 and shovelers are occasionally seen on Christchurch waterways.

Paradise shelduck/Putakitaki Tadorna variegata:

Paradise Shelducks

Paradise Shelducks F+M. Photo credit: Jeremy Taylor

The Paradise shelduck is large and goose-like and can be found in parks and along waterways throughout Christchurch. Often found in pairs, the female is the more striking bird, with a white head and chestnut-coloured body. The male is darker, with a black head. In flight, the male gives a low honk, while the female answers with a higher-pitched call. Ducklings are brown and white-striped, and fledged young resemble the male.

Pukeko Porphyrio porphyria:


Pukeko. Photo credit: Jeremy Taylor

Pukeko are often seen alongside waterways and in paddocks. It has blue and black plumage, a red bill and shield and long red legs. Pukeko eat mostly vegetation, but will eat eggs, invertebrates and other small animals. Pukeko chicks are black and fluffy, with their parents’ large feet.


Public Toilets

Scarborough Park


Food & Refreshments

Ocean Café & Bar, Scarborough Park

Several cafés and restaurants in the Sumner shopping centre

Dairy, café, and service station in Redcliffs

Restaurants, cafés, fast food, and supermarket at Ferrymead

Dairy on Linwood Ave & Kidbrooke St


In Sumner, there are several options with motels, bed & breakfast providers, and holiday homes for rent.

Around Redcliffs, there are some B&B and holiday homes available.

Off Linwood Ave, there is a motel, backpackers, and camping ground.

There are no motels in the immediate vicinity of the end of the leg, but further within New Brighton, there are some motel and back-packer options.

Public Transport

Visit for bus trip planning, route maps, and timetables.

Purple P-Line Buses run bi-directionally between Sumner and the Christchurch Airport, via the central bus exchange. In Sumner, it runs along Nayland Street with several stops, just one block over from The Esplanade.

Bus 140 passes through Ferrymead and Linwood on it’s bi-directional east-west route between Mt Pleasant and Hornby.

Bus 535 passes through Ferrymead and Linwood on it’s bi-directional route between Lyttelton and Eastgate Mall.

Bus 145 runs along Maces Rd and Ruru Rd on it’s bi-directional route between Eastgate Mall and Westmorland.

Yellow Y-Line buses run along Pages Rd on their bi-directional route between New Brighton and Rolleston, via the central bus exchange. For part of the Christchurch 36 Trail route, between Cowles Stadium and Rowan Avenue, the Y bus only runs west, as the easterly route swings up through Wainoni.

Nearby Points of Interest

Redcliffs Dairy’s icecream bar

Ferrymead Historical Society

The Tannery arcade

Te Huingi Manu Wildlife Refuge/Bromley Oxidation Ponds

The Te Huingi Manu Wildlife Refuge in the Bromley Oxidation Ponds provide habitat for many wetland bird species, including New Zealand scaup (5000), Australasian shoveler (7000), grey teal (4000), Paradise shelduck (2500), Canada goose (2500) and black swan (1000).

New Brighton Pier